I honestly could not imagine cooking without lemons. Whether they be squeezed into a salad dressing or zested onto chicken or fish, lemons always seem to help food taste their best. Last year I gave friends and family jars of preserved lemons for Christmas. Not only did they look good under the tree, they tasted pretty good too.
Preserved lemons are normally associated with Morocco and its cooking, but are also common in Indian and North African countries. They are pretty much lemons squared. The taste us intensified, but the skin has lost its bitterness so you can eat it.
Here’s how you do it.
A couple of bay leaves per jar
Sea Salt (not iodised)
- Prepare your preserving jars and generously line the bottom with sea salt. I read that iodised salt makes the lemons bitter, so try and find some that isn’t.
- Scrub your lemons and then cut them into quarters. A lot of the recipes I read told you to cut them down to the base, but to keep it all connected. I tried this but found it hard to rub with salt and then they came apart once smushed into the jar anyway. So I say FLAG that!
- Rub the lemon quarters with salt and then put in the jar.
- Keep on doing this until the jar is full up with as little space between the lemons as possible. I like to add a few bay leaves and whole peppercorns for extra flavour, others like to add a cinnamon quill or dried chilli- it is up to you and your tastes.
- You now need to fill in the gaps with lemon juice and a little bit of olive oil. When the lemons are completely covered, seal it with the lid.
- These need to be left for at least a month in a dark place like your pantry, being turned every couple of weeks. After that, they are fine on your windowsill to look pretty for up to a year. However, once you have opened them, keep them in the fridge.
Here are a few ideas as to what to do with the lemons once they are ready:
- You can add them to couscous, lentil or quinoa salads.
- Rub chicken or fish with a little olive oil and finely chopped preserved lemon before you cook them.
- Finely chopped in yoghurt with coriander for a delicious sauce.
- The perfect addition to a tagine.
- Plus the liquid from the jar can also be used in dressings.
Don’t they look gorgeous? The perfect idea for Christmas presents.